Tower Hamlets Council will be marking Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January with a number of events so that residents can remember the six million people who lost their lives during the Holocaust years and the millions of others who were affected by it. During the Second World War, over six million people in Europe lost their lives in the Holocaust. A huge number of these people were Jewish – but Roma people were also targeted, as were gay people, Communists and people with disabilities.
•An exhibition, The Boys Triumph over Adversity, tells the inspirational story of how a number of young Holocaust survivors rebuilt their lives in Britain following the war. It is being held at the Brady Arts Centre from Monday, 18th to Friday, 29th January.
•A Jewish East End History Walk, led by the Jewish East End Society, will take place on Sunday, 24th January. It begins at midday at Aldgate tube station.
•An interfaith commemoration event will be hosted at the Nelson Street Synagogue on Sunday, 24th January.
•Jewish Care, working with the UK Jewish Film Festival, will run a film screening and speaker event for secondary school students in Tower Hamlets at the controversial Rich Mix Centre. The film, Nicky’s Family, is about Sir Nicholas Winton and the remarkable rescue of hundreds of children from Czechoslovakia on the Kindertransport.
The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016 is “Don’t Stand By”. The Holocaust took place after the Nazis blamed minorities for the low standard of living in Germany and strengthened the state to abolish dissent. Other countries stood by as the Nazis consolidated their power. As Jews tried to flee Germany, other countries were reluctant to offer them asylum because they did not want to absorb too many refugees. The parallel with today, with European countries reluctant to take too many people who are fleeing starvation and repression in Syria is stunning.
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel has written powerfully about the impact of bystanders. She said: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Labour’s John Biggs, said: “Every year it is important that people take the time to remember those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. The unimaginable loss of so many lives is almost beyond comprehension. But now, more than ever, it is relevant to stand together against such brutal and horrific acts and say ‘never again’.”
Mr Biggs has been asked at various Council meetings if the borough will take some of the Syrian refugees that the Government has agreed to take into the UK. He has responded that the Council needs to look at the situation and wait until it has reassurances from the Government on funding issues before proceeding.
•For more information about events in Tower Hamlets, go to: www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/arts